Reviews: Sat Nav Reviews

REVIEW / Garmin nüvi 40

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Fabien Pionneau Published on June 7, 2012
Translated by Catherine Barraclough


  • Dimensions / Weight 124 x 79 x 18 mm / 148 g
  • Antenna type NC / Built-in
  • Screen size / touchscreen 4.3 inches / Resistive
  • Battery life 120 min
  • Maps / Countries included UK & Ireland /
  • Software NC


As part of the firm's Essential range of sat navs, the Garmin nüvi 40 is aimed at drivers who want basic sat nav functions with no added bells and whistles. Plus, at around £100, it won't break the bank. Time to take it out for a spin.


Basic But Sturdy

In spite of its low price, the Garmin nüvi 40 has a bright 4.3-inch screen with good contrast levels, decent viewing angles and a matte finish. Anyone looking for a bigger screen can always opt for the slightly higher-end nüvi 50 which has a 5-inch screen and sells for about £10 more.

Garmin NUVI 40 TomTom GO LIVE 1005 - review

This sat nav has a fairly standard design with a hard black plastic casing. But while the nüvi 40 may not be the sleekest device out there, it still feels like a well-made product. Build and finish are good with just four screws visible at the rear.

The suction mount is a tried-and-tested Garmin classic. It's just a shame it's not a little less bulky, like the compact mounts used by TomTom. You're therefore likely to leave it stuck to the windscreen most of the time. Seeing as this is a budget GPS, the mount doesn't integrate a power connection for the sat nav unit. In other words, you'll have remember to plug the power cable into your car's cigarette lighter port and connect it to the back of the sat nav before you place it in the windscreen mount.

Garmin NUVI 40 Back - review

There's a Micro SD card slot on the left-hand edge of the device that can be used for adding maps. That said, our test model still had 1.6 GB of internal memory free.

The small speaker on the back of the GPS isn't amazing and soon saturates. However, the sound output is still decent and clear enough for you to understand prompts and directions with no problem at all.


Clear, Classic Interface

A whole 16 seconds after pressing the 'On' button (there's no 'quick start' in this GPS!), the nüvi 40 displays its basic, quite traditional internal menu. The layout is clear and it's easy to find your way around. In our tests, the nüvi 40 connected to the GPS satellites quickly, taking less than a minute and sometimes just a few seconds if the device has been recently used.

Garmin NUVI 40 Menu 01 - review
Main menu
Garmin NUVI 40 Menu 02 - review Settings menu

While the nüvi 40 doesn't have the new interface rolled out to Garmin's Advance range of sat navs, it's still very easy to use. You do, however, have to enter your destination address bit by bit ('Where to' then 'Address' then 'City'), with the town or city, then the house number and street name entered separately. You can't search by entering all the destination info at once and there's no local search function either, as this GPS can't connect to the web. Volume settings can be reached in two steps, which is still OK. Note that the keyboard has no predictive text entry function.

A budget price tag doesn't always get you low-grade hardware. In fact, the nüvi 40 really doesn't disappoint on that front, as the internal interface is fast and responsive and the device calculates routes quickly.


The Basics

As an entry-level sat nav, the Garmin nüvi 40 is equipped with the bare minimum of route guidance tools, although it does offer spoken prompts and street names, as well as a lane-assist function. It also displays speed limit signs and junctions. However, there's no traffic info service and there are only two types of route to choose from—the shortest and the fastest. All of that is fine for getting you from A to B, but you'll have to put up with unforeseen events (traffic jams, etc.) that a higher-end model could help you avoid.

The sat nav voice is a little robotic and could sound more natural. All in all, though, it's clear and easy to understand.

Garmin NUVI 40 Menu 03 - review
'Where to?' menu
Garmin NUVI 40 Menu 06 - review Lane assist

The interface in navigation mode is clear and easy to follow, with your route shown in purple alongside your current speed, the next intersection and the remaining distance to it.



The Garmin nüvi 40 is a basic sat nav. There's therefore no Bluetooth and no pedestrian mode. The only extra function is an option to search for locations via geotagged photos (photo navigation).
Why Spend More?

Ultimately, the Garmin nüvi 40 does everything you need it to—it gets you from A to B via the fastest or shortest route. You may therefore be wondering why anyone would bother shelling out for a pricier model. Well, it all depends on how you plan on using your sat nav. If you'll only be using it twice a year, then a £100 model will certainly do the trick.

However, there are still plenty of reasons to invest in a higher-end GPS, especially if you're on the road a lot. Some models, for example, come with lifetime map updates (Garmin's LMT range) and traffic info to help you steer clear of jams (or at least let you know how long you'll be stuck in them!). Bluetooth can be handy for hands-free calls, and plenty of models now come with voice commands, so you can tell your sat nav what to do. Plus, route optimisation functions and multi-destination planning can prove practical. Finally, regular drivers will find connected services a real boon for real-time information (traffic, weather, etc.) and local searches via the web. It all depends how much you'll use your sat nav and how much you're prepared to spend.


  • Basic but clear interface
  • Good-quality 4.3-inch screen
  • Micro SD memory card port
  • Good basic navigation functions to get you from A to B


  • Suction mount is practical but a bit bulky, especially since there's no built-in power supply
  • Voice sounds a little robotic
  • Functionality is quite basic


The Garmin nüvi 40 doesn't do much, but it does it well. The interface, display and basic functions are all decent. In fact, it's largely sufficient for occasional users or anyone looking for a simple, no frills sat nav that does its job well but doesn't cost the earth.
3 Garmin nüvi 40 DigitalVersus 2012-06-07 14:58:00
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